Re-ex­am­in­ing the record of Richard III

The Church of England - - BOOKS / SUNDAY -

In­ter­est in Richard III has grown since his re­mains were dis­cov­ered in a Le­ices­ter car park and then in­terred amid pomp and cer­e­mony in the cathe­dral. But de­bate con­tin­ues to sur­round the ‘bunch-back’d toad’ as Shake­speare called him. Was he re­spon­si­ble for the mur­der of the princes in the tower or has he been un­fairly ma­ligned? David Hor­spool has writ­ten a new bi­og­ra­phy Richard III (Blooms­bury, hb, £20) of a king who con­tin­ues to fas­ci­nate peo­ple to­day. Edith Cavell was shot as a Bri­tish spy in Oc­to­ber 1915. Her death was marked last month by a num­ber of ser­vices com­mem­o­rat­ing her courage and faith. She helped 200 al­lied sol­diers es­cape Ger­man-oc­cu­pied Bel­gium and on the night be­fore her ex­e­cu­tion she spoke the fa­mous words ‘I re­alise that pa­tri­o­tism is not enough. I must have no ha­tred or bit­ter­ness to­wards any­one’. Cather­ine Butcher tells the story of this re­mark­able woman in Edith Cavell: Faith Be­fore a Fir­ing Squad (Monarch, An­drew White’s min­istry in Baghdad and his work for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and his re­lief work have made him a leg­end. Yet his con­sid­er­able achieve­ments have in­volved strug­gles with both MS and ME and he is cur­rently un­der­go­ing stem cell treat­ment in Iraq. In My Jour­ney So Far (Lion, hb, £14.99) he gives an ac­count of his re­mark­able life and of the peo­ple he has known, in­clud­ing both Lord Carey and Arch­bishop Justin Welby. Nick Page wanted to get to the bot­tom of the Book of Rev­e­la­tion so he de­cided to go to Pat­mos and visit the ru­ined ci­ties of the seven churches of Rev­e­la­tion. His book Rev­e­la­tion Road (Hod­der, pb, £9.99) mixes his­tory, com­men­tary, cre­ative re­con­struc­tion and trav­el­ogue to get to the bot­tom of one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing and mys­te­ri­ous books in the Bi­ble. No Hid­ing Place is a clas­sic. It is the mem­oir of a very re­mark­able woman, Cor­rie ten Boom, and the risks she took dur­ing the war to shel­ter Jews. Cor­rie ten Boom wrote the book with help from John and El­iz­a­beth Sher­rill. It has now been reis­sued by Hod­der (pb, £7.99). Al­though Bri­tain is rich in churches, many have been for­got­ten, lost, de­stroyed or even swept out to sea. Matthew Hyde has pro­duced a beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated book Bri­tain’s Lost Churches (Au­rum Press Ltd, hb, £20), which looks at our lost her­itage. You can read about the Epis­co­pal Cathe­dral in Oban that has never been fin­ished, the great cathe­dral at St An­drews lost at the Ref­or­ma­tion, St Al­ban Cheet­wood, Manch­ester, and many other build­ings. The story is not all loss. Some­times, as in the case of the bombed St Ethel­burga’s, Bish­ops­gate, a church that has been bombed or oth­er­wise de­stroyed is put to new use. Highly rec­om­mended. His­tory is full of amaz­ing sto­ries. In The As­tronomer and the Witch (OUP, hb, £20) Ulinka Rublack re­counts the as­tronomer Jo­hannes Ke­pler’s strug­gle to pre­vent his mother from be­ing killed as a witch. Sci­ence and su­per­sti­tion meet at the start of the mod­ern age. Cana­dian writer Sarah Bessey has writ­ten an hon­est and com­pelling ac­count of her faith jour­ney in Out of Sorts (DLT, pb, £9.99).

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